Monday, October 12, 2009

Visual Music

Not just listening to music

Recently at school we've been thinking about the pervasive influence of music on individual and collective lives, how, for example, "Teenagers listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day" and what the content of that music is. We all listened to a lot of music when we were teenagers too, but there's a lot more of it now, and with iPods and cellphones it's available everywhere, pretty much most of the time.
   But there's another dimension that I haven't seen anybody write about that's even more crucial: the visual aspect.
   Most teens, these days, don't simply listen to the music on their iPods and cellphones--they replay the music videos in their minds whilst they listen to the music. And those images are much stronger. We even do this ourselves. You do this yourself. Think about it. Maybe you read The Lord Of The Rings or Goblet Of Fire before you saw the film versions. But now? Is it possible to re-read those novels without picturing visuals from the film in your mind? No, I didn't think so.
   I googled 'content music videos teens' and amongst the first articles I found was one that reported, "On
average, music videos contain 93 sexual situations per hour"; and
obviously the videos also influence attitude, style, and other aspects
of world-view.
Recently I overheard some tiny Form Ones discussing a Lady Gaga song; the focus of their conversation was what the artist was wearing in the music video. In fact, very few teens buy albums without having seen a few videos of the music first. It's not the chicken or the egg--it's the chicken and the egg.
   When teens listen to their 2.5 hours of music a day, they are therefore not just listening to music.

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